Tag Archives: Rock
West coast girls seem to dominate music’s past. Since before the Beach Boys, artists have been singing the glory and beauty of the tan, fun-loving west coat girl. Well now the east coast finally gets its chance with Cayucas. True, this band is from California, but their summery sound has stretched across states to create a bright and upbeat song about a young girl who’s moved to the east coast for college. Ok, so technically it is about a west coat girl, but I’ll take it. The sound is somewhere in between Local Natives and Dirty Gold, full of handclaps and jangly guitars. With their warm sound, it’s hard not to listen without moving to this danceable beat. Check it out below and see if you don’t catch yourself listening on repeat for a while. Their debut album Bigfoot is out April 30th
Cayucas – East Coast Girls
“Hello it’s only me, I come and go with minimal flair.” So says Ben Garett, the man behind Fryars. It’s a quiet greeting, a whisper of presence that you can only glimpse before it’s gone. That’s how the mournful ballad begins, before the beat picks up behind the steady kick-kick-snare of a melancholic drum. It’s the soulful sound of isolation, of feeling out in the cold. ”On Your Own” Garett’s Ozzy-esque voice melds beautifully with the instruments to create a mix of electronics, rock and perhaps even a little late 50s love ballads. But what’s most interesting about this song is the pronouns. As Garett switches between first and second person, we feel at times like listeners hearing the depressing tales of Garett’s loneliness, at other times like the one who is lonely. If you wanna get down with some blue music, check out the song below and look for the album later this year.
Fryars – On Your Own
There’s a huge bias today towards bands using acoustic guitars, piano and swirling harmonies, especially British bands, towards the new folk categorization. It’s easy to put To Kill a King into the same category as Mumford & Sons. Or maybe Dry The River to match their edgier sound. I myself was ready to place them into this category after hearing their Word of Mouth EP. But Cannibals with Cutlery, the groups debut full-length has wiped away any last thoughts as to their genre. The band stands in a category all their own, blending pop, rock, folk and even classical music to create one of the most unique albums to come out so far this year.
Usually it’s the music that jumps out at me first with a band like this. I mean, there is a lot going on: synths, pianos, bass, guitar, drums, harmony after harmony, strings. Basically, a lot for a five-piece band. Take their opening track, “I Work Nights and You Work Days” for example. It lulls gently into the album, using sparse but effective instrumentation like strings, quiet trumpet and a lone piano. Drums are completely absent from the song, only adding to the delicacy as Pelleymounter sings of the loving two-worlds relationship, “And though you are asleep, it seems so natural, to kiss you as the sun comes up.” This is the closest the album comes to a “typical” love song.
The stories of these songs are not the simple loves songs of most bands today. Relationships aren’t just ended in heartbreak but tragedy. Violence and questions of character appear constantly as in the brutal and powerful song “Fictional State.” In one of the few songs to feature a female vocalist, singers make excuses for their broken love: “there’s no hole in my head, accusation I just ain’t the family type/falling short and you’ve got better plans, escape artist and you just undermine.” The song gradually progresses from a worried father singing over acoustic guitar and piano, to a cacophonous mix of blaring trumpets, drums and heavy guitar and the song come crashing triumphantly to an end. This is perhaps the greatest feat of the band. To Kill a King, progress with ease from quiet beginnings as in “Fictional State” and the refreshing “Gasp” to booming choruses that swell and surround.
If you listened to their EPs or Ralph’s Balcony Sessions, you’ll hear many old favorites come alive under crisper, clearer realization. “Funeral” and “Besides She Said” find new life on this album. And, my personal favorite “Choices” is a stunning midpoint to the album. I originally thought I loved it for its use of twenty-something musicians in the Ralph’s Balcony Session. But, as a group in a studio session, the song seems to evoke more emotion than ever. You can almost see the patient suitor: “he’s on your doorstep, waiting with flowers. This garden is freezing, teasing, you’re leaving me for hours.”
But for every old song, the band has new surprises. “Children Who Start Fires,” a metaphor for an unfaithful lover is a beautiful and clever acoustic number. And the closing track, “Letter to My Lover (The Dylan Fan)” makes a fitting end to an album that constantly shifts and twists. Never leaving you to catch a breath for one second, Cannibals with Cutlery touches on subjects few would touch in mainstream music these days, with a musical finesse most bands only dream of achieving. The album is out February 24th, but it’s currently streaming for free if you want more than just my words and the few samples below. Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on this band.
To Kill A King – Gasp/The Reflex
To Kill A King – Choices
Tuesday evening, I finally attended my first concert in Paris at La Flèche D’Or, a beautiful (both acoustically and visually) old train station in Gambetta. My goal was to see Lord Huron perform, but one of the opening acts surprised me and came close to surpassing even Lord Huron’s performance. That band was called Champs (not to be confused with The Champs of old). After the concert I spent several hours searching for music by the band, but all I found were obscure references to their music and talk of a possible EP in the future. Eventually I found that they have only released one single called “St. Peters” which was their closing song at the concert. It’s a great example of Champs’ use of heavy rock combined with the soft pop harmonies reminiscent of early 60s pop-rock staples like The Hollies. It’s this unique blend of bright pop with dark undertones which left me in awe during their show, at times literally breathless as stage lights cascaded off the band. Below is a sample of the magic that is Champs, hopefully we’ll get some more releases in the near future.
Champs – St. Peters
Take Coldplay and crank them up a notch, a little edgier and electronic, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic new rock band called Knocking Ghost. The song starts sparsely enough with vocals and hard-hitting guitar. But once the drums kick in, 80s snare style, the song really takes off like a rocket ship to a world of shuffling grooving electronic rock. But while the music is danceable, the lyrics point towards disappointment and desire for the past. Things are falling apart around the music, there’s no grounding and no one seems to care except for the singer, desperate to return to a much stabler time. It’s a great single of the UK bands first EP Distractions, which you can download for free on their soundcloud page. Check out the single below.
Knocking Ghost – Distractions
Bursting into your ears with a cascade of synths both high and low, “Hey Judas” is the powerful indie pop gem from Fine Times. It’s got that same beat that had me up and dancing to “40 Day Dream” by Edward Sharpe, but with a vibe all its own. The Vancouver band, really make an impression with this one, chanting in a lively chorus which pushes love songs to the extreme. Well, it’s less a love song than a strong cry for everything to be taken: money, clothes, physical well-being. Anything really as long as it means love and companionship. Check out the catchy little number below. And, as an added bonus, check out the video here for a little extra edginess.
Fine Times – Hey Judas
“Skin, skin and bones is all that’s left/just me and you, two damaged fools”
Hey folk, sorry about the delay. It’s been a busy week getting adjusted to life in a new country, but hopefully posts will start to be on a more regular basis in the coming weeks. Today we’ve got a great new music video from To Kill a King. If you follow this blog, you’ll know that we love To Kill a King here and we’re very excited for their upcoming album Cannibals with Cutlery. This single, “Cold Skin” was previously featured in their amazing Ralph’s Balcony Session with an acoustic styling. Now, the song has come into it’s own as one of TKAK’s harder hitting, rock-leaning songs. Sure, there are still the group’s beautiful harmonies, but they’ve moved from the forefront of the songs to the background allowing a powerful guitar, electric organ and strong drums to take precedence. Lyrically, this song is definitely one of the groups strongest sounding a wake up call to the singer and anyone else who will listen. The video is a bit bizarre but, the face-painted children and tug-o-war wrestlers somehow seem to make sense with the song. Check it out above, and look for their upcoming album February 24th.
“I’ll fall for you soon enough, I resolve to love”
San Fermin‘s new song “Sonsick” starts with a minimal drums and a steady bell jingling along. But this song quickly becomes anything but minimal as the brass and wood instruments creep in and the singers wail at the top of their lungs, creating a whirlwind of sound that I can only describe as Chicago if they were a modern indie band with female lead singers. As odd as that may sound, the brass mentalities and choral breaks really create a beautiful and powerful sound. In a word, this song is uplifting. In the doom and gloom and cold of winter, it’ll pick you right up like a cannon, propelling you high into the clouds. This young group is set to release their debut in February, but for now, check out the first single below.
San Fermin – Sonsick
To Kill a King has been one of my favorite new bands of 2012. Their music is unique, beautiful and diverse folk-rock. And we were first introduced to them through the Ralph’s Balcony Session, “Choices.” But recently, the entire Ralph’s Balcony Sessions were released on bandcamp. This is a truly amazing collection of music and artist. There are 19 songs, each featuring another artist playing along with the band. Not only is this a great way to hear a bunch of new and fantastic bands, but it is great to watch and listen to how these musicians interact. Different personalities and styles make each song different from the next. Above is one of my favorites from the session called “We Used to Protest.” It features the whimsical Emily Wood, who soft-spoken voice fits perfectly with this stripped down To Kill a King Song. Check it out above and download the whole album on bandcamp, it’s well worth it.
The Zolas know how to craft a pop song. Their infectious new single “Knot In My Heart” manages to be catchy, while at the same time dynamic, shifting from dark moments to bursts of blissful energy. It’s a sturdy rock song, sunshine pop and a little dance music all rolled into one. Last week, they released the music video for the single. In many ways it takes the lyrics of the song and puts them into stop-motion romance. Check it out above and give their album Ancient Mars, which came out October 2nd, a listen.